Post – Clinic keeps expenses rock bottom

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Post – Clinic keeps expenses rock bottom

One reason we are happy to support the work at the Bolivian prosthetic clinic is that we know that, besides doing great work, they also stretch every dollar as far as possible. Hence, your donation will have maximum impact. The cost of a prosthetic limb is largely driven by labor costs, as well as the prosthetic components that go into a leg. In Bolivia, labor is a major factor in the overall expenses. It is a travesty that the main prosthetic technician, like many workers in Bolivia, only earn a few dollars per hour. And yet in Bolivia, that is actually not too bad.  But even a few dollars per hour adds up in this labor intensive process.

In order to keep the second largest cost (components) down, virtually all components are made in-house in the tiny workshop at the clinic.  There are occasional imports of a limited number of components, but they are always sent as donations.

The most critical part of an above-the-knee (AK) prosthetic limb is the knee itself. In 2011, Matthew Pepe, our founder, convinced an international organization, LIMBS Intl, to provide the design and training to our partner FUNPROBO, in how to make the amazing polycentric knee.


This knee:

  • Is far more advanced than any other knee made currently in Bolivia.
  • Provides the patient a very realistic feeling.
  • Resembles a normal walking gait (especially compared to the traditional Bolivian single axis, or fixed knee, leg).

Last month, two more dedicated BWD volunteers at FUNPROBO, cranked out 20 more knees for the next AK patients.

  • A polycentric knee, when purchased in the US, costs between $700 and $7000, depending on many variables.
  • FUNPROBO’S ‘in-house’ knees can be made for less than $100.


Feet are another problematic component do to the high load and stress they must sustain day-after-day, and year-after-year. Again, it was our founder who introduced the “Shape and Roll” foot design invented at Northwestern University in Chicago.

  • FUNPROBO has now made 100s of these feet since 2011.
  • Instead of spending $50-$250 on an imported foot, these feet can be made for about $10.


A third critical and expensive component is called a connector which attaches the prosthetic foot to the lower prosthetic leg.

  • The clinic invented its own connector, which saves $1500/year.
  • These durable in-house connectors cost less $4 to make.
  • These components are made from durable engineering plastics and stainless steel nuts and bolts.

The above measures show the attention to costs that the Bolivian clinic exercises to ensure that all donated funds stretch as far as possible. Your donation will be efficiently used.

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